Latino/a Literature and Culture in the United States

Module code: SP2070

This module’s main focus will be a selection of writings by Latina/o Caribbean authors – that is, authors whose origins lie in the Hispanic Caribbean but who were born in the United States – as the primary material through which to explore socio-political, historical and cultural issues pertinent to understanding the increasingly important presence of Hispanic cultures and the Spanish language in contemporary US culture. We will examine recurrent themes in this kind of literature, including racial and gendered identity formation, explorations of cultural difference, and the social-political dimensions of cultural hybridity. But we will also find in these works opportunities for learning about the forces behind migration from the Hispanic Caribbean to the United States, and the challenges involved in that experience. The authors and works studied are of Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban origin or descent, and are writers of novels, short stories and poetry. Further to this, the module will also provide you with opportunities to engage with present-day expressions of Latin@ culture via contemporary art forms and social issues, such as music and street art, and the significance of the Hispanic vote in contemporary US politics.

Through successful participation in this module, you will be enabled to develop a critical awareness of the texts and films studied that is informed by a sound understanding of the historical, social and political backgrounds in response to which those texts were created. You will also have had opportunities to develop the skills and approaches required to critically analyse different genres of cultural expression – for example the short story, the contemporary novel, and the memoir – and express this knowledge in oral presentations and written assignments, using appropriately academic language.

Topics covered

  • Histories of migration from the Historic Caribbean to the USA
  • Latin American-US relations
  • Identity of politics in US LatinX culture, including matters of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, age and class
  • Issues of assimilation versus transculturation
  • Issues of self-representation and the role of diverse literary genres as vehicles for that

Learning

  • 20 hours of seminars
  • 130 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Essay (80%)
  • Group presentation (20%)